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BBC presenter's moving on-air tribute to Reading attack victim and his late husband

BBC Radio Berkshire presenter Sarah Walker opened up about her friendship with Joe Ritchie-Bennett.

2020-06-23

BBC Radio Berkshire presenter Sarah Walker has paid a moving on-air tribute to her friend Joe Ritchie-Bennett, who was killed in Saturday's suspected terror attack in Reading.

American Ritchie-Bennett, 39, was killed along with friends James Furlong, 36, and David Wails, during the knife attack at Forbury Gardens on Saturday evening (20 June).

As tribute are left to the trio outside the Reading LGBTQ pub they used to frequent together, Walker used her radio show to deliver a moving speech about "outrageously funny" Ritchie-Bennett and his relationship with his late husband Ian, who tragically passed away in 2014 following a battle with colon cancer.

 

Joe Ritchie-Bennett was one of three friends killed during Saturday's suspected terror attack in Reading

"I wanted to start this afternoon by talking about my friend Joe", Walker told listeners.

"Now Joe was a fantastic human being. He was outrageously funny. He was one of those unique people who on one hand could make you properly belly laugh, but at the same time he could show you such extraordinary kindness - the kind that makes you feel safe and loved.

"He was quick, he was sarcastic, he was dry, and last night I read some of his Facebook posts and they left me crying with laughter."

She went on: "Now I got to know him because he was married to one of my very close friends, Ian, who we lost to cancer nearly six years ago.

 

Joe Ritchie-Bennett (right) lost his husband Ian to cancer in 2014

"They were completely devoted to each other, and I remember sitting in a hospital room with them both after Ian as told that his cancer was terminal.

"Ian said to me: 'How can I ever leave Joe?' Because Joe was the kind of person who you wouldn't want to be without.

"Now, the only comfort that I get, and I'm sure his friends and family get, is that they now get to finally be together."

Walker continued: "At Ian's funeral, Joe stood and delivered the entire eulogy by himself, because it mattered so much to him that people heard what a brilliant person Ian was.

"Now I have no how he did it, but I do know why: And it matters to me today that you know that Joe lived a great life.

"He was loved by so many people and he made us all feel that life was a much better place with him in it."

Khairi Saadallah, 25, from Reading, is currently in police custody after being arrested on suspicion of murder. The incident is currently being treated as a terrorist attack.